Behind Morris Isaacson's Humble Faςade
This article was first published in the Saturday Star on June 17, 1995
Morris Isaacson Secondary School, sandwiched between White City and Central Western Jabavu in Soweto, looks like most other schools in the sprawling township.
But its humble façade belies the place in South African history that this school took after the June 16 student uprising.
This is where the idea of pupils challenging the might of the State was conceived under the leadership of Tsietsi Mashinini, Khotso Seatlholo, Dan Montsitsi and Murphy Morobe among others.
When the protest was over, hundreds had been killed.
The only conspicuous change to the school is its size, most people say.
It opened its doors in 1956 and was originally called Mohloding.
"We started this school off with only about 300 students," says Legau Mathabatha.
A former principal of the school, he says he resigned from Morris Isaacson in 1976 as the police "constantly harassed me because they could not tolerate me."
When the Saturday Star visited the school, construction work was under way in the yard.
Morris Isaacson now has 36 classrooms, 1 100 pupils and 34 teachers.
One of the teachers, who was present during the 1976 unrest, Caiphus Morutse, says: "There is no significant change except that the students of '76 were not like the present ones. The pupils used to take their studies very seriously," he said.
"We never had a problem reminding them to wear the proper school uniform."
Morutse says Morris Isaacson "was the best when it came to music competitions, examination results and sports - this was the school."
He says he wishes it was possible to "wind the clock back and have the same good old days again with Tsietsi's generation."
The school was named after Morris Isaacson, an Israeli, who donated funds to build 10 classrooms.
He also built White City Isaacson Higher Primary, Mavis Hall and a crèche.